By Sherelle Harris and Mary Oster
To The Editor:
We would like to thank everyone who participated in the Community Conversation: Helping All Children Succeed in a Diverse Society, funded by the William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund and co-sponsored by the Norwalk Early Childhood Council, the Norwalk Public Library and the Norwalk Family Resource Centers.
We had a great turnout at the South Norwalk Branch Library on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 and we are encouraged by the ideas that stemmed from the conversations. Of the seven topics discussed at the initial conversation held at the Carver Center back in November, we settled on three topics to discuss. The pros and cons of zero tolerance, diversity: racial/cultural awareness and respect, and early childhood education were the topics that received the most votes.
We were fortunate to have among us library board members and many community leaders who represent the city in capacities that can help us move forward with ideas that stemmed from our three conversations. Ernie and Martha Dumas, South Norwalk elected official and Second Taxing District commissioner respectively, divided their time between our conversation and the budget meeting at City Hall. Curtis Law, Norwalk Housing Authority executive director, and Pamela Augustine Jefferson, Norwalk Public Schools Early Childhood instructional specialist, participated in the diversity conversation.
Grace Vetter, Norwalk Public Schools coordinator of school health services, Marlene DeBillis, Side By Side Charter School social worker and Rev. Jeffrey Ingraham, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church and a Norwalk Housing Authority commissioner, participated in the zero tolerance conversation along with many high school students. Sarah Rendon, Child FIRST care coordinator along with Meg Pyne and Lillian Palma from Family & Children’s Agency were among those who participated in the early childhood education conversation with several parents of young children.
It was an honor to have everyone with us, particularly the parents and grandparents who cared enough to come out and tackle these tough subjects.
We are confident that good things will come from our joint community efforts. Stay tuned! You will hear more from our groups very soon.
Sherelle Harris and Mary Oster
Co-Chairs, Family Support Alliance of the Norwalk Early Childhood Council